Monday, December 13, 2010


Mike Connors is an architect who, after several tough years, is slowly carving out a successful career; Susan Hayward (at right) is his ex-wife, a noted sculptor but also a spoiled heiress; Bette Davis is Hayward's conniving mother. While in the middle of an important meeting, Connors is called away to help tend to his teenage daughter (Joey Heatherton) who has been charged with killing Hayward's current lover. The act is considered to be justifiable homicide--apparently the lover was engaged in a violent fight with Hayward--but Heatherton is still sent to a home for juvenile delinquents. As Connors tries to reconnect with his daughter, whom he'd seen very little of over the past several years, we get the story of Connors and Hayward in flashbacks: they meet and squabble over the worth of her sculptures, fall in love impulsively, and Davis tries to "buy" Connors into the family. He marries Hayward but refuses Davis's offer of a vice-presidency at the family bank, so Davis manages to stymie all of his attempts at standing alone as an architect. Soon Connors is working for Davis, is miserably unhappy, and starts drinking; meanwhile, Hayward starts in on a series of one-night stands with young gigolos. They divorce and Hayward gets custody of the daughter. Back in the present, Connors finds out that the 15-year-old Heatherton is not a virgin, and had been writing lusty letters to the man she killed--were mom and daughter both sleeping with the same guy?

This glossy, trashy soap opera was based on a Harold Robbins novel, and the murder on which the story centers was based on the real-life incident in which Lana Turner's daughter killed her mother's lover. Connors, however, winds up being the focus of this narrative, even though it's Hayward and Davis who get to chew the scenery and wind up being the only reason to watch this. Connors is serviceable, but a little drab compared to the leading ladies. Heatherton is flat-out terrible, striking a shrill one-note petulance in every scene she's in. DeForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy in Star Trek) is equally bad as Hayward's agent--he seems to be playing the part as both gay and boring. There is some good campy fun to be had in some of the dialogue: Connors to Hayward: "You're not a woman, you're a disease!"; Hayward to Connors: "You're wallowing in self-pity, booze and recrimination!"; Hayward as her drunken husband tries to initiate sex: "You're not the first today--I'm just getting warmed up!" The ending would be bleak if we really cared about any of these characters. Nice sets and color design. [DVD]

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